After presenting a brief to the Committee on the expectations of the Métis Nation regarding the upcoming federal budget, President Chartier responded to questions from Committee members. The Committee was interested in learning what the core capacity needs of the Métis Nation were, with particular focus on Métis youth. President Chartier was also asked to provide an assessment of the situation in La Loche .
President Chartier’s Remarks to the
House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Finance
Ottawa, February 16, 2016
Thank you for allowing me to address your committee on the upcoming Federal Budget and the Métis Nation.
The Métis Nation is greatly impressed by the adoption of a Métis Nation Policy by the current government.
This policy, “Advancing and Achieving Reconciliation for the Métis Nation”, is a far-reaching plan for the government to work in partnership with the Métis Nation, on a Nation-to-Nation basis, to further Métis self-government and economic prosperity.
The starting point for reconciliation is a commitment to begin processes for settling land claims and advancing self-government.
The Métis Nation Policy also rightly recognizes the critical importance of certain programs and services for our people and the proven track record of Métis Nation governments in their delivery.
It makes a number of commitments which we trust will find their way into the budget, including:
• a $25 million investment over five years in the Métis Economic Development Strategy;
• the renewal and expansion of the Aboriginal Strategic Employment and Training Strategy or ASETS; and
• the enhancement of existing scholarships and bursaries available to Métis students at various colleges and universities in partnership with the Métis Nation.
The government’s policy commits to convert funding to the Métis National Council’s Governing Members for Métis identification and registration into a permanent initiative to ensure an ongoing and reliable base of funding.
We welcome this initiative and see its inclusion in the budget as a first step in overhauling the overall federal funding system for the Métis Nation to put it on a nation-nation, government-to-government basis.
We also welcome the whole-0f-government approach of the new government in its dealings with Indigenous peoples’ governments.
The Prime Minister has set the stage for our engagement with multiple federal Ministers and in the intergovernmental process on key issues like the Health Accord and Climate Change.
While welcoming this opportunity, we are woefully underfunded and under-equipped to participate effectively under the current funding system.
I believe the government is aware of this challenge and is preparing to boost our capacity to be able to participate meaningfully in the unfolding talks and processes.
This critical requirement for expanded resourcing should also be addressed in the budget.
Past efforts to getting Métis Nation-specific asks into the budget have been few and unsuccessful.
For example, while asked by former Prime Minister Harper to submit a stimulus proposal for budget 2009, we ended up completely left out.
The federal denial of jurisdiction f0r Métis served as a barrier and the Métis had no one in the government to fight for our interests.
The Daniels case before the Supreme Court of Canada and the strong likelihood of its confirmation of federal jurisdiction for the Métis under s. 91(24) of the Constitution Act 1867 will likely reinforce the evolution of a new relationship between Ottawa and the Métis Nation that has already started under the Trudeau government’s Métis Nation Policy.
At the same time, the long history of our budget item asks being overlooked altogether or – in the few cases when they were put forward – ending up on the cutting floor, makes us naturally vigilant.
We will continue to work with the government to ensure their bold commitments are put into effect and encourage this committee to support us in these efforts.